NORTH Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) is working with head teachers to support schools following the latest government guidance on reopening.

The government has announced that primary schools in England will remain open for children of key workers and may open for children in pre-reception, reception, Year 1 and Year 6, from Monday, June 1.

Plans include smaller class sizes, socially-distanced desks and staggered break times.

However, concerns have been raised regarding the safety of children and staff during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Stuart Carlton, corporate director of children and young people’s service at NYCC, said: “We are following the guidance from the government and advising schools to prepare to be ready to open from June 1 at the earliest.

“In line with government guidance, schools will undertake a risk assessment in order to plan appropriate safety measures, which will also tell us if there are any schools in the county which can’t implement appropriate measures.

“We are working with the schools, head teachers and the unions to support the preparation of schools and the decision to open by the headteacher and governing body.

“We have received queries from both headteachers and parents which are being responded to individually.

“Our teams are working with head teachers and unions to answer queries which have ranged from the re-opening of schools, to how transport and cleaning will be organised.

“Parents will be encouraged to send their children to school, however their attendance has not been mandated by the government.

“Parents will not be penalised for not sending their children to school at this time.

“We will continue to support the schools and education staff in any way we can and ensure a safe learning environment for children and staff alike, along with providing up-to-date information for parents who might be concerned about sending their child back to school during these unprecedented times.”

Rachel Wells, head teacher at West Heslerton Primary School, said they had been open almost every day since the lockdown in March for children of key workers.

“Parents have a dedicated email to book childcare and we’ve opened and delivered fun activities suitable for those children booked in. We have not closed at all,” she said.

Mrs Wells said staff were now looking at expanding the school to other year groups with guidance on dropping off and collecting children and measures to ensure social distancing guidelines were kept.

“This expansion will be dependent upon the current health data remaining stable,” she added.